At the Fairlawn Golf & Country Club, there is a favorite member — the man everyone at the club wants to play with.

Pat Cailler, age 95, now is the only Fairlawn member who belonged to the club when it opened in 1963, having come there from Summit Springs with Fairlawn founder and owner, the late Frank Bartasius.

Bill Kennedy, Golf Columnist

Over the 56 years at Fairlawn, Cailler has grown from a club champion, something he accomplished in his 60s, to becoming a living legend and Fairlawn’s greatest player when it comes to having fun on the course.

This writer has had the privilege of playing with Cailler twice this month, and not a lot of folks can say that. Cailler had a bad winter in Florida, and a medical condition robbed him of strength and stamina. This season, he has had to work his way up from playing a few holes a day to having gone nine holes on back-to-back Mondays. Plus, he plans to go all 18 in a senior scramble scheduled for Aug. 21.

On one of the days we played together, he recorded a 44, which means that if he had gone 18 holes he probably would have shot his age, something he has done countless times. He has two front-nine holes-in-one at Fairlawn (No. 3 and No. 8), one of which was recorded in his 80s.

With his wife, Dot, 91, a 27-year pro shop/starter employee at Fairlawn, the Caillers were at the center of the Fairlawn social life during the early years of the club. Saturdays there would be Scotch (coed) tournaments with a party at night in the clubhouse.

“That always was a good time with a good bunch of people,” Cailler said.

He and Dot were in charge of cleanup and many a Saturday night they did not get home until 3 a.m. The parties went well into those nights. Cailler considers those parties to have been one of the highlights of his half-century Fairlawn membership.

He also used to enjoy going to pro-am tournaments with Bartasius, Will Benoit and Ron Leclair. And for 15 years, he played in the Fall Classic with Mark Pontbriand, having won it once with Cailler being in his 90s.

Randy Hodsdon is the Maine State Golf Association’s authority on the rules of golf, and he possesses perhaps the best Maine golf memory. He said he cannot recall any 95-year-old golfers in this state. He did say the Mike Hassis of Norway did play MSGA tournaments into his early 90s. Does that make Cailler Maine’s oldest golfer? Until proven otherwise, according to Hodsdon.

Over time, Cailler has changed irons and woods, but his fiberglass Gary Player putter has remained in his bag for 40 years.

Cailler, who has lived his entire life in the Lewiston area, was in the Class of 1943 at Lewiston High School, about which he quipped, “I was not the valedictorian.”

At Lewiston High, he was, however, a football halfback on two undefeated teams and a center/left forward on a hockey team that qualified for the New England Scholastic Championship Tournament.

Because sports left him with bum knees, he was classified as 4-F by his draft board, meaning he could not serve in World War II. Surprisingly, he was able to play hockey at age 54 in a “cardiac league.”

“Someone had to take care of the girls left behind,” he said with a wry grin about missing World War II. “And Les Sturtevant wasn’t even born then, so it was totally my job.”

Sturtevant, Fairlawn’s self-proclaimed 21st century lover, has tried to model his golf game after Cailler, but truth be told, Cailler is in a golf class by himself. And the entire Fairlawn membership knows that.

*****

More golf sayings:

“Eighteen holes of match play will teach you more about your foe than 18 years of dealing with him across a desk.” — Grantland Rice

“Golf appeals to the idiot in us and the child. Just how childlike golf players become is proven by their frequent inability to count past five.” — John Updike

*****

The Maine State Golf Association’s premiere event, the Charlie’s Maine Open, will be Aug. 19-21 at Augusta, and the Weekend Tour will be Aug. 23-24 at Springbrook.

On the ladies side, gross & net will be Aug. 20 at Point Sebago, and a summer better ball event is the same day at Rockland.

Bill Kennedy, a retired New Jersey golf writer and editor, now residing on Thompson Lake in Otisfield, is in his seventh season as Sun Journal golf columnist.


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